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Published on June 18th, 2015 | by Discussion Questions

How can I reach out to a friend with depression?





JEFF WRITES: This question has been a hard one for me to answer. I feel like my friends both need and want help, but I don’t know how to give it to them.


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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected]



  • Caleb

    One thing I would do first is pray for them. Another thing would be to find out the reason why their depressed. Most people in a depression state are their because of selfishness and anger. So honestly just ask them if they need to forgive anyone. And of course ask them to forgive God, and to look to him for their comfort.

    • Caleb, you state that “most people in a depression state are there because of selfishness and anger.” How did you arrive at this conclusion?

      • Caleb

        That’s just something my dad has taught me.

        • Thanks for answering my question, Caleb!

          I don’t know anything about your dad or his experience with depression. It’s possible he has personal experience or experience with others where anger and selfishness led to depression. Or perhaps he is also just repeating something he was told by someone else.

          Regardless, it doesn’t seem like anyone has enough information to claim that “most people in a depression state are there because of selfishness and anger.”

          Certainly, depression can have deep spiritual roots. And selfishness and anger are deadly. They can cause far worse things than depression, so I can certainly how they could cause depression in some cases.

          Still, the idea that “most” people who are depressed are feeling that way because they are spiritually immature or haven’t forgiven someone, etc. is a grand assumption that, in my opinion, simply cannot be proven.

          And it’s a dangerous assumption, because if you’re wrong you are saying to people who are deeply hurting, “This is your fault. You are sinning.”

          That is what Job’s friends told him. And God rebuked them. That is what many people said about the man born blind who Jesus healed. And Jesus corrected them.

          All that to say, I would encourage you and your dad to reconsider that statement and discuss together whether there is any support for it biblically or otherwise.

          (Once again, just to make sure I’m being clear: I am taking issue with the word “most”… I am not denying that selfishness and anger can cause depression in some cases).

          Thanks for listening, Caleb!

  • Good question, Jeff.

    I would have to say I’m definitely not the best one to ask about this. I don’t always make the right moves when trying to help people, and sometimes it results in huge problems that I don’t want anyone to duplicate. It’s painful.

    So my warning would be to do a lot of thinking and praying before deciding if you’re going to do anything you aren’t sure about. Basically, you need to seriously evaluate things to see if they are actually wise before you can decided if you are going to do them or not. Don’t rush the process, please!

    That being said, you definitely want to do something, and not wait a moment longer than you need to. As @disqus_rrbFNR8LdN:disqus mentioned, you really need to start with prayer. Anything that’s really going to help them in the end has to start with God.

    A lot of times just talking to someone is the second biggest thing you can do for them. You need them to really think about why they feel the way they do. Sometimes when someone has to explain why they are depressed they realize that they are being really self-centered and foolish. Or at least, that’s how I was. (Thanks again, @brettharris:disqus!) It kinda just clears their mind and helps them stop viewing the world from their hole in the ground. So yeah.

    You want to show that you really care for them. That’s key. You definitely want to sympathize with them, as long as it’s not like a pity party. That’s dangerous. Just talk to them. That will normally be good. Actually the bigger part of that would be just listening. If they need to vent, let them! Sometimes that’s really all they need. They just need someone to listen. Be there for them, and make sure they know you are. It helps a lot.

    One last thing is not to let their situation put you in a similar one. Don’t worry about them. Care about them. Pray for them. Just don’t worry. Worrying doesn’t help anybody. And don’t betray their trust. Just don’t. Be careful. Really, it doesn’t have to be very hard to help someone. It’s not all that difficult to listen!

    Now remember, I don’t claim to have the answer or even a right one. These are my opinions and I’ve been wrong before. So don’t just do whatever I say without seriously considering whether or not it’s actually a good idea. Okay? :)

    • Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    • Gabrielle

      Well, that was a book!! Going to publish it!! :)

      • Gabrielle

        Great response though Sam!!

        • Well thanks, Gabrielle! I’m glad you thought it was good.

          • Gabrielle

            Hi Sam!! Happy Independence Day!!

          • Thanks Gabrielle!

  • Jolie Simmonds

    Great question! I have depression, though it’s gotten soooo much better. I advise you to show them that you support them by spending time with them, talking with, and especially laughing with them. Doing that can provide a much needed distraction from their depression. Also, when my depression was at it’s worst, I had an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, all I wanted was someone to hold my hand and show me that they supported me; do that for your friends. You don’t have literally hold their hand, but you can just tell that your there for them and that they can talk to you about whatever is bothering them. Lastly, help remind them that God is there for them and that their problems are so small compared to his awesome love and might.

  • tmselden

    That is a very difficult question to answer as depression has so many facets. Everyone goes through times in their lives when sadness seems to be overwhelming. Some think that going through a sad time and feeling blah about life is depression. Much of that is caused by self-centeredness and focusing too much on themselves. If a friend is a Christian, approaching them with love and understanding is the right way and then leading them to evaluate their feelings on a biblical level. Encouraging them and spending time with them often helps to get that person out of a slump.

    But when someone suffers debilitating sadness and it has altered the way that they live, it is more likely a situation that is much harder to talk a person out of. True depression-much of what they call clinical depression-seems to keep people in a dark state for a much longer period of time. Some of David’s psalms express how deeply he was in distress at times and experiencing devastating loneliness.

    Sometimes depression could be a chastening of God for those he loves as His own. Other times, there could be physical reasons that should be looked at by a doctor.
    For whatever reason, true depression, when experienced needs to be handled very gently. A truly depressed person does not care about life. They don’t care about anything anymore. No amount of talking or encouragement can change their thinking and they appear hopeless. People in that condition should be ministered to by Christian professionals that are experienced in that field.

    • Oh thank you so much for writing that! It covers a lot of stuff I missed and is so well-written! I don’t really know much about clinical depression.

  • Pray for them. Pray with them even if they can’t pray themselves. And have a wee look at this, it’s not perfect but it may help you understand just a little :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUHcc7ipGt0

    Just to remind folks, depression doesn’t always come with being far from God. Sometimes it’s what brings us closer to him because we know just how hopeless we are ourselves. Another one to look up is ‘I had a black dog and his name was depression’. You can’t always kill the dog, but you can help your friends learn to throw stones :) Sometimes just being there helps.

  • Leah

    Wow, tough question. However I’ve been in a similar situation before with a friend. It’s really hard. Here’s my advice; sorry it’s so long!!!:
    Really how you act will probably depend on the severity and the cause of the problem.
    1.) SHARE THE GOOD NEWS. My friend was in a very, very hard situation. Her mind was wired to go towards depression because of her personality, which was introverted and very sensitive, although you couldn’t have guessed that easily. Which is NOT an excuse for sin, but it is a fact that some of us are more susceptible to certain sins. But the key was, she did not know Christ. If your friend doesn’t know God, this would be a perfect time to share with him/her the gospel. Of course, though, only do as much as God leads you to because you don’t want to hurt them by pushing too much. But pray for opportunities to talk to them about God and see where He leads you. Be brave but don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answers to any hard questions your friend may ask. And maybe most imporrantly, remember that we all have chronic sins. Depression may seem big and ugly and above us church-going tithing dedicated Christians – it did to me at one point. But it’s just another one of the sins we may all struggle with, even within the church.
    2.) DON’T LET THEIR SADNESS OVERLY EFFECT YOU. It was very hard for me to see my friend suffering, and I saw her all the time. At least 2-3 hours a day, every week day for the whole school year, we were interacting. Some people might have said it was a bad idea to get too close to her, for fear that I may also get depressed, which really makes perfect sense. If you start getting depressed, spend less time with your friend! Pray for strength; pray for your friend; but don’t make yourself sick, too. In my situation, I probably shouldn’t have stayed as close to my friend as I did. But God blessed me tremendously through it and it was all a part of His glorious plan. Through my time with my friend, I showed her what God’s love looked like (even though my example wasn’t perfect, of course): steadfast and strong and beautiful. The kind of love that holds through fire and storm. Pray that you would show your friend what God’s love looks like, whether or not they’re a Christian. In my situation, the reason I stayed so close to my friend was out of the knowing that she wasn’t getting that love at home, and almost everyone at our school was non-religious or atheist.
    3.) TELL AN ADULT. This one should probably be first. If the depression is there, make sure an adult knows. MAKE SURE. As in ask their mom, ask their dad, ask their guardian. Depression cannot be treated alone. And you cannot be their therapy either. They need professional help. Even if they say it’s fine or tell you not to tell anyone.
    4.) GIVE HUGS. Like Jolie said, often people with depression need physical assurance that you’re there for them. Hugs are likely a good thing. If they don’t want hugs, don’t give them hugs. But they will likely hug you back tight.
    5.) WATCH OUT FOR THEM. A lot of the time when someone’s depressed, they won’t tell you when it’s bad. You have to watch. See if they’re sitting alone, or crying in class, or something out of the ordinary, and talk to them. Help them – whether that means turning then over to a professional or giving a hug or just listening.
    There’s probably more I’m not saying, but this is long enough already. Tell me if y’all have any questions. Hope that helps.

    • Casey Dyck

      Leah, I agree with many of your points. I was just wondering why you labeled depression as a sin. Some people become depressed due to their own actions and then refuse to help themselves get better. This could be considered sin. Others though simply have a chemical imbalance in their brains. Calling their depression sin seems similar to telling a person with glasses that their vision problems are sinful. Just looking for some clarity on this subject.

      • Leah

        Honestly, that was kind of a broad statement sorry for the lack of clarification… I guess I would say that in the case of a chemical imbalance, depression is more of something to work through than it is a sin. I think that depression becomes a sin when someone clings to it. I believe it is perfectly true that depression can bring you closer to God. However, when people make the choice not to work towards getting out of depression, I think that’s a sin. Or, in certain cases, if depression is caused by self-centeredness. But it is so important to note that it’s often not the person’s fault if they are depressed, and you are correct in that there are many cases where it isn’t a sin. Does that clarify? If anyone else disagrees let me know because I’m not 100% certain on that, but it’s what seemed right to me at the moment, based on the Bible.

        • Casey D

          Okay thanks or the clarification. I completely agree with you. I wasn’t sure what you meant in your original post. I’ve never heard of depression being thought of that way but I think you’re right. Clinging to depression is when it crosses over into sinfulness. People not wanting to get better separates them from God.

          • Leah

            Yeah no problem :)

    • swellbeth

      Great advice, but I don’t think telling an adult would help in my friend’s situation. His parents would overdo it, and getting a professional counselor would probably just push him farther into his shell. He will only tell a very few super close friends. What should I do/encourage him to do?

      • Leah

        It depends on how bad your friend’s depression is. If he is having ANY suicidal thoughts then it is extremely important to get him the help he needs with some sort of professional asap. Professionals can seem scary, but remember they all deal with kids like your friend every day. His case is not unique in the ways that you described, and professionals know how to deal with cases like his accordingly. Also if parents are a problem, could he talk to some sort of school counselor? But really, parents should know. Depression is a big deal. Not in a way that it’s life-stopping, although it certainly can be, but it needs to be dealt with seriously because it is a strong disorder that can and will worsen if not treated. Parents should know because they can see symptoms most commonly, and keeping secrets like this from them is just a bad idea that can hurt trust if it “the secret” gets out, which it’s likely to do. I would encourage your friend to tell his parents. I know it’s hard but I think they’ll likely take it better than you think. Anyways, other than that I would say your friend could benefit from time reading his Bible, maybe in a summer Bible study. Bible studies are a great way to get support and love and of course biblical advice, assuming your friend is a Christian. Other than that I’d say just be there for him. Let him know that you care ALL THE TIME, in your words and actions. A lot of the time, people with depression just need constant reminders that you care. Even if you’ve already said that you care and assume they know, depression makes you think nobody cares and makes you neglect to reach out for help. So asking if he’s okay or needs anything would probably be good, especially if you see he’s having a hard day. Hope that helps :)
        <3 your sister in Christ, Leah

        • swellbeth

          Thank you so, so much.

          • Leah

            No problem let me know if you have any other questions. I’ll be praying for you and your friend.

  • Josh A

    Witness to them.

    • Josh A

      This is going to look weird, but the Reb blocked my last comment, so I’m going to see if one of these words triggered it…

      • Josh A

        Sinner.

        • Josh A

          Died.

  • Josh A

    And pray for them.

    • Haylie

      I wish I could up vote this more than once.

  • I don’t have a genius answer for you. I would say just take the time to show interest in this person’s life. Depression can come from the idea that they’re not worth anything or that nobody really cares. Prove that wrong by investing time into them. Let them know you’re praying for them, ask for specific things to pray with them for, and generally carry on a conversation with them.

    Let them know you value them as a friend. A lot of depression is a question of worth and value in their own eyes, so just treating them as someone you value and enjoy talking to can help a lot. Hope this helps!

  • Josh A

    But seriously, I went through this with a friend that I met recently. I didn’t even realize she had depression! When she told me, I said over texting, “Listen, the reason you’re sad is that there’s a hole in your heart that only God can fill. You have everything a girl could want, but you’re not happy. Its ’cause your not living your life for anything, you’re just going with the flow. You really need Jesus! It won’t be instantaneous or anything, but He will make you not sad anymore! He will transform you and give you a new heart…all you have to do is admit that you’re a sinner and believe that Jesus is Lord and died for your sins then rose again so that we could live eternally with Him. It really is the only way to be truly happy!”

    It’s too early to tell if she’s truly saved or not, but she came to repentance that night. Praise the Lord! =)

    • Leah

      That makes my heart happy :)
      Praying that your friend continues in a walk with the Lord for the rest of her life. And thanks for pointing out that often you can’t tell who around you is dealing with depression.

      • Josh A

        Thanks! =)

  • Seth Yoder

    Love them. Show yourself friendly to them. Spend quality time with them. Pray for them; prayer is more powerful than we think. Just my thoughts. :)

  • Zipporah

    Show them true joy. And, more important, show them Christ. With Him, there is joy and happiness and purpose.

  • Samuel G

    Great question, Jeff. I don’t know the situation with your friends, but I think depression’s a tough one because it could be caused by a lot of different factors. Of course, it could be that they don’t know the Lord. In that case, you’d just have to keep sharing God’s love with them – and showing it by really caring about their personal needs.

    But depression is something that a lot of us face even when we have found forgiveness in Christ. And to say that “If you really knew God, you wouldn’t have this problem” could be not only unhelpful but also untrue. I’ve faced a bit of depression from time to time (though not very bad), and I know that it’s not caused by a lack of God’s love in my life but rather by my human weaknesses. My sins are forgiven, and my life is changed – but I’m still a fallen person with more than my share of problems.

    It’s humbling for everybody because depression shows us just how weak we are – not only those with depression, but also those trying to help them. Simply telling them to fix their own psychological problems may seem fair to us, but most likely it’s not going to help. We have to get alongside them, and show them more love and interest than they deserve. Because, to be honest, we don’t deserve it either.

  • Samuel G

    “Master, grant that I may never seek
    So much to be consoled as to console,
    To be understood as to understand,
    To be loved as to love.”
    – St Francis of Assisi (attrib.)

  • Hannah Croswell

    I have never had depression or knew anyone that I know who has, but someone once told me something along the lines of “Help them to stop focusing on themselves but on other people who have more troubles”.

    • Leah

      That’s true for some cases, where the issue is the person focusing on themselves and their problems, but sometimes this can really hurt because the cause of depression isn’t the person focusing on themselves, but a chemical imbalance or similar.

      • Hannah Croswell

        True. Well I guess then that is for if there depression is from focusing on themselves.

  • I know that when I was going through depression, it was because of a lot of different things, not really one thing in particular. I definitely agree with the comments that say try to get them focusing on helping other people instead of self-focus. All I really wanted was to know that people cared about me. I felt like no one would notice if I dropped off the face of the earth, and the thought seemed horrible but true.

    Just try to help them feel like they belong and help direct their focus on helping other people (I know it would have helped me a lot if someone had done it sooner). Even a text saying that you care really does help.

    Sorry, I’m really not good at things like this. 😛

  • Haylie

    I shall think on this and come back to it after my vacation. I read the question, and there are so many things I want to say that I would just be rambling 😛 There’s some good stuff on here though. Keep it coming guys!

  • Amanda Pitre

    Depression is such a hard thing. I’m struggling with it at this moment actually – and it’s even more depressing because I know I am a Christian and that this isn’t the attitude I should have.
    I do agree that focusing on others is important during these times, but it’s so hard to try to help people with their problems when you’re suffocating and drowning in your own. When you feel so totally alone, when a parent doesn’t want you at home, when you might get fired any day due to one more write up that shouldn’t have been given you, when you can’t get into the college or university courses without a hundred hoops because of your home school background, when your parents relationship has been shaky for the last 3-4 years, when you end up constantly being a parent’s problem and burden, when your siblings are fighting depression and suicidal thoughts… how do you get through it? Especially when you must simply watch it all get worse because half of the issues you can’t do anything about? I know God’s in control, but I’m having an extremely hard time living out my faith :(

    • Just prayed for you, Amanda. I will try to remember to keep praying.
      Hey I want you to know that I’ve found your comments encouraging. Thank you. I love how honest you are. :)

      • Amanda Pitre

        Thank you :) I’ve found one of the only ways to defeat depression daily is to share what you’re going through with others. Besides helping me think through things and see it in the right light, it always helps or encourages others in a weird way. But if I don’t share, I become self-focused and lost in a sea of depression. It’s a lot about simply being reminded of who God is and what He’s done and His promises.

        • Yes! It is the same for me. Also, I am encouraged when I try to help others who are struggling because it helps me actually try to answers the questions I’ve been asking myself. I desperately want my friend to understand, so I have to be creative in communicating the truth. And then it helps me understand too. :)

          • Amanda Pitre

            So true. Even though I’ve struggled so much, I’ve been able to help so many others struggling. It’s just hard when you constantly have to bring to mind all your pain. I have to continually look to Christ for grace and strength, as well as others. I know many other people who have it off worse (I volunteered at an oh an age for 2 months in South Africa last year), but yet the pain is still real.

    • Rebekah Dukes

      Prayers! *hug*

      • Amanda Pitre

        Thank you :)

    • Prayers <3

      • Amanda Pitre

        Thank you :)

    • Elizabeth Namaara

      Don’t ever forget that Jesus is right beside you, holding your hand. But most of all–don’t ever ever forget that he LOVES you!

    • I’ll be praying for you.

    • MimeforJesus

      I am praying for you. That sounds very hard.

    • Amanda Pitre

      Thanks everyone :) God is so good, and is crazy how even though we don’t know each other in person (or at least I don’t know any of you), we have this commonality in Christ and we can strengthen and encourage one another! :)

    • Amanda Pitre

      “My soul melts away for sorrow;
      strengthen me according to your word!” – Psalms 119:28

      I liked how in verse 28 the Psalmist says his heart “melts” with sorrow. It’s so true when you’re struggling with depression. It’s a pit that suffocates you, and fire that melts you… unless you focus on Christ and not on yourself – just as the Psalmist says, “strengthen me according to your Word”! The more we dwell on Christ, the less we dwell on ourselves.

    • Leah

      Maybe counseling would be of help? Ugh I hate being “that person” if you know what I mean, but I think that the counsel of other Christians is a vital part of living out our faith and fighting through the hard times. Praying that you can overcome this and truly know the peace and joy of the Lord.
      <3 your sister in Christ, Leah

      • Amanda Pitre

        You are so right Leah :) I do have a bunch of people that know parts of what’s going on (only a couple of close friends about stuff with my parents), so that has been really helpful. I’ve realized that I’m the kind of person that needs to talk things out, so counsel is very much a necessity :)

    • Haylie

      Just prayed for you, Amanda. May Jesus be a constant light in your precious life! Don’t ever turn your eyes from Him. Love from another sister in Christ <3

  • Abby

    I don’t have medically diagnosed depression, but I have gone through many depressing situations and times. I think the worst thing to do is to discredit their pain. I wrote to someone explaining a situation of mine that I was really struggling with, and they replied with things like, “at least your parents aren’t getting divorced” and “well, you haven’t lost anyone close to you, your whole family is still alive and healthy”.
    While I think it is good (or rather necessary) to be thankful for things that we do have, (such as health or parents with a healthy marriage) saying things like that make a person feel like their pain/frustration isn’t justified, and that you don’t really care. Rather than telling them what they have, you could, if it comes up, suggest that they think of things that they’re thankful for, while establishing that you do understand that this is a pretty big thing for them and that it isn’t wrong to feel the way they do, but it is important to be thankful.
    Also, to be able to understand what exactly they’re going through it might be helpful to read articles/watch videos on how it feels to have depression. (someone close to me has medically diagnosed OCD and I feel like doing this really helped me understand them and their change in behavior better) Here’s a pretty short one:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps8RcOdfHT4

    • Excellent point! Thanks for sharing, Abby. :)

    • Emily

      Yes, I agree entirely with your post, and thank you for mentioning the thankfulness part. I didn’t in my post, but that is very important too.

  • I struggled with extreme depression and was very suicidal. I’m actually still a little shocked that I’m still alive, praise the Lord! But I realized that it was because of things that had happened to me in the past and once I got help, I haven’t struggled with it. So if your friend’s depression is because of any trauma or thing that happened in the past to them, however minor, look up Margaret Vasquez or Intensive Trauma Therapy.

    But if its not trauma related, prayers and encouragement is so helpful. Just letting them know that you’re there and that you care will mean the world to them! Praying for you and your friends! Hope this is helpful!

    • Amanda Pitre

      So true Liana… in the past few years, especially 2 years ago, I struggled a lot with suicide – it IS amazing to think about the fact that God has kept us safe from harm, and from ourselves.
      And YES!!! Having someone around that is simply willing to listen and hear you rant stuff out-loud so you can hear yourself think is a Huge blessing :)

      • Leah

        So glad God blessed you girls with life and safety even through really tough times. Praying that you would always be filled with the joy of the Lord! :)

        • Amanda Pitre

          Thank you Leah :) God is good all the time, and all the time God is good :)

      • It truly is! I came so close to actually going through with it so many times. Every single time though, something prevented me! All I can say is that I am so grateful for those few who knew and supported me, and even those who didn’t know but were always kind and I knew they were there. Also counseling helped so much. I finally realized that I had a legit reason for the emotions I was dealing with. Prayers, Amanda!!!! <3

  • thatcher

    i don’t know much about depression, but maybe if you always have a joyful attitude around them, it would encourage them.
    my dad is a pastor and my mom went to bible college, and they say that the person with depression should find someone to serve and pour their life into.

  • Amanda Pitre

    Helping a depressed person? Being involved in their life! :) Also, send verses to them. My ex constantly sent me verses as I battled the hardest with my depression, and it was one of the few things that got me through it. Isaiah 26:3-4, Jeremiah 29:11 (???), Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7, most of the Psalms… these are all great passages :)

  • Dancer17

    Having struggled with depression myself I know how hard it can be for both the person suffering and those around them that want to offer help. Something that worked for me was to focus on helping someone other than myself. To take care of my little sister or a friend in need let me stop worrying about my own problems and instead comfort someone else, which in turn comforted me. Also, having someone that will care about anything you have to say, no matter how silly it sounds, is a great comfort.

    • Definitely! Focusing on others is a great reminder!

      Welcome to the Reb, @disqus_q64hk0eO6E:disqus !

  • Haylie

    Okay, i’ve had some time to think about this now. This is a tough, but very important thing to talk about. I have struggled off and on with depression, and i know how hard it can be. This isn’t a step by step remedy to depression, seeing as one doesn’t exist, but i hope it helps someone :)

    Depressed people are hungry, and don’t know what to do to feel full again. How then, as friends, can we feed a hurting, hungry soul?

    FEED THEM LOVE
    Tell them you care. By them ice cream. Hug them. SHOW them that you love them, but more importantly,show them God’s love. Be there for them when they need you.

    FEED THEM TRUTH
    This comes straight from God’s Holy Word. Write a Bible verse on a sticky note, and leave it somewhere they can find it. An encouraging word can brighten the darkest days.

    FEED THEM STRENGTH
    This comes through prayer. Bring your friend before the Throne of Grace and plead for God to be active in their life. Pray for continued strength.

    FEED THEM HELP
    If your friend is in danger of themselves, (destructive eating habits, cutting, etc.) please don’t let them suffer alone. There comes a time when the most caring thing you can do is tell a responsible person who can help them more than you can.

    That’s all i got. Hope it helps.

    • Amanda Pitre

      That was great and so true – I can relate completely. Thank you for sharing :)

    • Leah

      I really like how you put that :)

      • Haylie

        Thanks :)

  • Emily

    Ok, I struggled with depression for two years. It was the hardest and most lonely time of my life, and also the most confusing time in my life. 16-18 years old. I kept my depression as a secret from everyone, even the people closest to me, for the whole two years except the last three months, when I told my best friend. She convinced me that I needed to tell my parents, and only after talking to my pastor about it next did I finally tell my parents. After that confession, my life has flipped from a life of darkness and numbing pain to one of light and healing.

    My advice to people that are trying to help friends with depression:

    DO NOT CONDEMN THEIR PAIN AS TRIVIAL:
    The main reason that I never told anyone about my depression is because I thought they would be ashamed of me. The second reason is because I thought that they would laugh at me and say that my pain was nothing compared to others. I comforted myself alone, therefore, in the fear that no one would understand my pain. Something I told myself over and over was a quote I heard secondhand, and this is not word-for-word, more my own translation:
    “No matter how little or obscure someone’s pain is, how much less potent than your own or the next person’s, DO NOT BELITTLE IT, because the thing about pain is that IT HURTS TO THEM.”
    Telling someone that their hurt is stupid is not. going. to help. that. hurt. It will make it worse. Tell them that you are sorry that they are hurting, but don’t tell them that they shouldn’t be hurting because it’s a silly reason. Most of the time we would stop the hurt if we could.

    WATCH THE FRIEND:
    Don’t go overboard on this; don’t make their trusting in you a regret. But if you know that your friend struggles with depression, listen to the little voice that tells you to check on them. Send them a text and ask if they are “doing ok today”, or call them and just say that you love them and thought you’d say so. Sometimes just having a person to break the silence and the numbness can pull you out of depression for a whole day.
    Similarly, if you notice that they are acting strange, ask them if you can listen. They won’t want to open up at first, but really, all they want is for their mind to not be alone and tired.

    Don’t always be aggressively cheerful if they’re having a bad day:
    Sometimes being a cheery light is what they will need, but a lot of times, it is better to just be silent with them. Listen to the sad music, or sit silently and drink tea, or watch the clouds float by. Let them know that you’re there for them, but they don’t have to fulfill any requirements of being cheerful or forcedly happy. Say that you love them even if they’re sad.

    Hope that all helps.

    • This is so wonderful, Emily! I’m sorry that you struggled with depression, but this is great advice!

      • Emily

        Thank you Lauren.

  • Emily

    Also, something that my pastor and wife did that actually helped, (when I said that I thought that my parents would be ashamed of me.)

    They laughed at me.

    It doesn’t seem like that would help, but their complete relaxation with my “big” problem helped. They laughed because they knew as adults, how common of a feeling this is for teenagers. And they told me that it wasn’t shameful. It was fairly normal, because teenagers are just in that point in their life that they don’t know who they are yet and that’s hard.

    LET THEM KNOW THAT THEY ARE NOT TERRIBLE PEOPLE FOR FEELING THIS WAY.

  • Emma Roth

    wow, good comments. thanks!

  • Melody Brocke

    One of my best friends has had a battle with depression and anxiety for the last few years, and while I do not profess to be an expert (believe me, I’m not!) I have learned a few things about being there for someone suffering from it.

    The first thing you need to realize is that they are probably very sensitive. (Maybe everyone suffering from depression isn’t, but this has been my experience). Even a little comment, not intending any harm, can be taken the wrong way. Be careful and thoughtful in your word choice. One thing I learned though, is sometimes you have to stand up to them on some things, even if it means they will be mad at you. (What I mean here is if they say or do something that goes against your beliefs as a Christian, you don’t have to agree with them.) Generally, just be as kind, thoughtful, and thick-skinned as you can be.

    Just be there. Be a friend and let them know you will be there no matter what. (Unless you don’t intend to be, but if you really want to help your friend, you will need to commit to it.) There were many times my friend came to me just to talk, and other times she would ask advice. If you friend wants to talk, then just listen. If they want advice, give it as gently and Jesus-like as you can. (Think WWJD).

    Even if your friends are not Christians, try to bring up the subject of God from time to time. Not in a way that makes them feel inadequate or that like it’s being shoved down there throat, but in a way that lets them know God is good, He loves them, and that you are living your life for God and love it.

    If no responsible adults know about your friends’ conditions, then you must tell someone, even if you know they will be mad at your for it, especially since issues like this can lead to self-harm and worse.

    At all times, pray to God to help your friends, and to give you the wisdom and courage to do what is best and right for your friends.

    I hope everything works out, and I will be praying for you guys! :)

  • Cathy

    I would like to add to the conversation, if I may.

    I struggled with depression at a very young age, around 10. I kept this hidden from my family and friends for years. At 13, however, my secret was revealed.

    Please keep in mind that each depression case and individual is different (this is just my story).

    At first, I was angry at myself because I felt like an outcast and different (in a bad way). I didn’t want to talk about my depression because I felt like they were just rubbing it in my face that I was not normal, and got easily offended.

    But, after a while, I began opening up more and talking about it to some close, trusted people helped me to let go of the chains of depression.

    For me, depression was a strange combination of wanting to be alone, but also wanting someone to talk to and be with.

    If you are dealing with a depressed individual, the best thing to do is to maintain patience. It isn’t easy, but neither is depression.

  • Julia

    I’m a little late to the discussion but I’ve had a best friend struggling with depression so I thought I would join- even though what I said may have already been said.
    Be careful with your words, but don’t go against your beliefs. Meaning, don’t push your Christian beliefs out of the picture or just respond with ” I’m praying for you.” In my experience, sometimes you need to be the person to talk about Jesus, even if it’s uncomfortable. I had to do this with my friend a few months ago and I ended up earning her trust and she felt that she could talk to me about her doubts and struggles, and through that I could point her back to Christ in a way that was not forcing it upon her. We have to present God CAREFULLY if the person feels they are being preached to, they will shut down. So if you do not feel that it is a good time to talk to them about Christ, leave it with an “I’m here for you and i’m praying for you” and HONESTLY pray for them.
    It may not be something that changes within a day, but over time they will start to listen and open up to you more and that’s when you can be a light to them and help them toward healing. God Bless!

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